Should managers be encouraged to play board games as part of their training and development?

Jawara, a devoted teacher and maker of the game who hails from Antigua, speaks to SaharaTV about how this game spiritually connects Africans home and abroad.

There’s hardly anyone that hasn’t heard about the board game of chess. But what I wonder is how many people know of its origin. No, I’m not talking about the chess maestro, Kasparov or the computer challenger “Deep Blue.”

Described as the “King of gamesin some circles, the word chess is derived from the Persian “shah,” which means king.

Arguably the world’s oldest board game, ayo — as it is called in Nigeria — or oware — as it is called in Ghana — made its way through the Atlantic passages during the slave trade and has survived many generations resurfacing in Caribbean Islands like Antigua and Jamaica.

In May 2021, the BBC ran an article “Battle of wits: Antiguans revel in ancient board game,” highlighting the “chess” of Antigua and Barbuda is a mind sport, psyching out one’s opponent is as critical as choosing one’s next move. Now picture this:

The lively scene is mirrored on street corners across the Eastern Caribbean nation where the age-old game, brought here by ancestors from Africa, is as popular today as centuries ago.

Warri has long provided a forum for discussing everything from politics to gossip. In colonial times it was banned by Europeans who feared its ability to draw African slaves together socially, driving it underground.

In addition to its cultural significance, there is another reason Mr Simon is one of Warri’s staunchest advocates. Co-founder of the country’s Warri Academy, he has seen the dividends it reaps in children’s mathematical ability.

Come in Rwanda… let’s hear it for Igisoro

Igisoro is a two-player game of the mancala family. It is a variant of the Omweso game of the Baganda people (Uganda), and it is played primarily in Burundi and Rwanda.

Ayo (pronounce aah-yoh) is a traditional game played by the Yoruba people who reside in South Western Nigeria. Known as the “Game of the Intellectual”, this game requires a lot of “mathematical skill.”

Like Igisoro, Ayo, according to CultureDays:

In summing up, isn’t it about time “staff retreats” or perhaps “C-suite retreats” start adopting board games as training for strategy. If chess has been accepted as a thinking cap, so why not Igisoro?

Just my musings for now, but just think about it…



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Nnamdi O. Madichie

Nnamdi O. Madichie

Nnamdi O. Madichie, PhD. Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM); Research Fellow Bloomsbury Institute London .